Reuven Rivlin: If Israel is to be successful, it must be united

The president's comments came during a speech at a memorial event for the first president of Israel, Dr. Chaim Weizmann.

President Reuven Rivlin lays a wreath at the official memorial ceremony for Dr. Chaim Weizmann, November 19, 2019 (photo credit: AMOS BEN GERSHOM, GPO)
President Reuven Rivlin lays a wreath at the official memorial ceremony for Dr. Chaim Weizmann, November 19, 2019
(photo credit: AMOS BEN GERSHOM, GPO)
President Reuven Rivlin marked the anniversary of the passing of the first president of Israel, Dr. Chaim Weizmann, with a speech calling for greater political unity in Israel.
Rivlin made the comments at an official memorial ceremony marking the 67th anniversary of Weizmann's death, held at his graveside at the Weizmann family's residence in Rehovot.
Born in what is now Belarus, Weizmann became president of the British Zionist Federation in October 1917, working with Arthur Balfour to obtain the Balfour Declaration. He went on to become president of the World Zionist Organization, serving two terms in the 1920s and 30s, before succeeding David Ben-Gurion as chairman of the Provisional State Council two days after the proclamation of the State of Israel.
On 16 February 1949 he was elected as the first president of Israel, serving until his death on 9 November 1952.
Rivlin opened his remarks by quoting a letter penned by Weizmann in 1930, while he was living in London. Addressed to James Marshall, the son of Louis Marshall, one of the senior leaders of the American Jewish community, Weizmann wrote, “There can be no really healthy constitutional government unless there is some community of feeling between the people who are to co-operate in it.”
“Weizmann’s words resonate with us all as both distant and close,” said the president. “The State of Israel is an established fact.
"Its democracy is strong, but public confidence in her institutions has been weakened. Our elected officials must create the infrastructure for a ‘community of feeling’ in the words of Weizmann, for the health of our constitutional government," Rivlin continued.
On Monday Rivlin made comments calling for more unity within Israeli politics, telling a group of ambassadors that the two major parties needed to reach an agreement and join forces. "Two elections in a year is enough," he said.
He appeared to build upon this statement in his remarks at Weizmann's memorial, saying: "Deep disagreement is an important basis for any functioning society – but one cannot build a stable home on that alone.
"The ability of the State of Israel to confront external threats has always been and will always be dependent not only on our military strength, but also on our national and civil resilience. For that, we must continue to insist on a fabric of shared existence. Without it, we will not be able to do so.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Blue and White leader Benny Gantz are due to meet again at 10pm on Tuesday night, 26 hours before Gantz's mandate to form a government runs out, to see whether they can make a deal for unity government.
The meeting is said to have come at the request of Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman, who has been acting as a mediator between the two in the hopes of forming a national unity government.
The meetings come in the wake of rumors that Gantz was considering forming a minority government with the help of the Joint List of Arab MKs, a scenario which Netanyahu said would be "an existential threat to Israel.” In response, head of the Joint List Ayman Odeh accused Netanyahu of "attempting to set off a civil war".